The lonely eminence of K2 (also known as Austin Godwin), the second highest peak after Mount Everest (ME), in the remote region of Karakoram Range hides the fact it is the most dangerous mountain to climb. The weather is notoriously unpredictable, the routes are dangerously exposed and prone to avalanches and the slopes are too steep even for a seasoned climber. It is for these reasons that K2 at 28251 feet is often termed as ‘Killer Mountain’ among the mountaineer fraternity.
No doubt therefore that while ME attracts even the casuals the K2 attracts the fearless.
Italians Achille Compagnoni and Lino Lacedelli first ascended K2 in July 1954 conquering the peak for the first time. The enormity of toughness in climbing can be gauged from the fact that the next success was met only in 1977 when a Japanese expedition put 7 climbers on top of K2.
Only about 280 climbers had so far been on top of K2 beginning 1954 compared to 300 climbers getting on top of ME every year. Statistically 96 climbers have died in K2 up till making it one death per three successes. The corresponding data for ME is 210 deaths for 2436 climbers i.e. 1 death in 12 successes. In other words the casualty rate is four times higher in K2 than ME.
It is now well known that mountaineering has become a commercialized sport and people pay to a company to get on top of ME, K2 or Kanchanjungha. The ill trained climbers are then provided with guides to scale the peaks and the result is dangerous.
In a similar situation, at least 22 climbers were put on the route of K2 on one single day in the first week of August, many of them being less trained to go for a dangerous expedition for the likes of K2. The result was disastrous and 11 climbers died.
One of the survivors of the expedition Wilcovan Roojien complained that the route to upper reaches was badly planned and it took many critical hours to correct rope fixings that ended in a summit at night. The decent at night became more difficult and this is when the tragedy struck in the form of icefall, which swept away the fixed ropes at about a height of 8200 meters.
This therefore makes sense for a rethink about climbing rules and special cares to be taken in the case of K2 expeditions and a strict ‘no’ to climbers not having professional training to scale peak of K2 and the likes of it.